The Citadel Magazine – The Citadel Today https://today.citadel.edu Fri, 14 Dec 2018 20:25:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.1 https://today.citadel.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Citadel-Favion-new-150x150.png The Citadel Magazine – The Citadel Today https://today.citadel.edu 32 32 144096890 Year In Photos: 2018 https://today.citadel.edu/2018-year-in-photos/ Fri, 14 Dec 2018 18:56:11 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=5169 Take a look back at the moments that defined 2018 at The Citadel through the lens of our campus photographer.]]>

Snow accumulates on Summerall Field with a cannon in the foreground

January 3, 2018 – A rare winter storm dropped 5.3 inches of snow on Charleston in one day, closing the city down for several days. The snowfall was the third greatest daily snowfall on record for Charleston County.


February 13, 2018Gen. Robert B. Neller, commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, delivered a Greater Issues Address to the Corps of Cadets in McAlister Field House.


March 22, 2018Col. Randy Bresnik, NASA astronaut, U.S. Marine Corps aviator, Citadel alumnus, and recent commander of the International Space Station joined The Citadel for a Greater Issues address as the keynote speaker of the 2018 Principled Leadership Symposium. During the event, Bresnik surprised Gen. John W. Rosa, 19th president of The Citadel, with a set of Rosa’s U.S. Air Force command pilot wings that Bresnik had taken aboard the International Space Station.


March 22, 2018 – The Citadel broke ground at the site of the future Swain Boating Center. Made possible by a generous donation from Dr. and Mrs. Christopher C. Swain, ’81, the state-of-the-art facility will provide cadets, graduate students, faculty and staff with access to the Ashley River and all the athletic, recreational and educational opportunities it affords.


March 24, 2018 – The college celebrated its 175th anniversary during Corps Day weekend, which included the annual march to Marion Square, site of the original Citadel campus.


April 16, 2018 – Cadets from the Cordell Airborne Ranger Club participated in a joint training simulation exercise with the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, South Carolina National Guard, and Joint Base Charleston. Joint training opportunities allow agencies to collaborate, practice and share tactics, techniques, and procedures in a safe, controlled environment.


April 19, 2018 – Cadets from the Tommy and Victoria Baker School of Business traveled to the Special Operations Airborne Museum at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, N.C., where they used state-of-the-art 3D scanning technology to replicate the rotor of the Black Hawk helicopter that went down during the battle of Mogadishu.


April 21, 2018 – The Bulldog Challenge, an annual event hosted by the Marine Corps Naval ROTC unit, is a 10-kilometer endurance course that borrows events from all facets of the Marine Corps ROTC training experience. About a third of the teams participating are made up of cadets.


April 25, 2018 – The Corps of Cadets gathered on Summerall Field to wish Lt. Gen. and Mrs. Rosa farewell after 12 years of service to The Citadel.


May 4, 2018 – History was made when Cadet Col. Dillion Graham, Class of 2018, passed the regimental commander’s sword to Cadet Col. Sarah Zorn, who became The Citadel’s first female regimental commander.


August 7, 2018 – The 478 members of the 2018-2019 training cadre participated in U.S. Navy SEAL-inspired training at sunset on the shore of Folly Beach in Folly Beach, SC.


August 11, 2018 – The Citadel continued its record of strong enrollment, welcoming one of its largest classes, with record numbers of female and Hispanic cadet recruits on Saturday, Aug. 11.


October 12, 2018 – Parents Weekend and the Ring Ceremony marked a rite of passage for the Class of 2019.


October 16, 2018 – Gen. Glenn Walters, the 20th president of The Citadel, delivers his first address to the Corps of Cadets as The Citadel’s new president.


October 24, 2018 – The Citadel’s guardian returned to her perch on Bond Hall. A gift from the Class of 1983 provided for the casting, installation and perpetual care of the new bronze eagle, which will better withstand the test of weather and time.


October 27, 2018 – Country Music star Mitchell Lee, Class of 2010, performed at a tailgate celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Citadel Graduate College.


November 10, 2018 – During their Homecoming review, members of the Class of 1968, decked out in full-dress onesies with foam swords to form an atypical sword arch.


November 11, 2018 – One hundred years after the Armistice that ended World War I, a wreath-laying ceremony was held at The Citadel War Memorial to honor and remember the generations of men and women who have served our country with bravery and selflessness.


November 17, 2018 – Strength and Conditioning Coach Donnell Boucher stood with The Citadel Football team in Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, before the Bulldogs went head-to-head with the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Citadel gained national attention during the game by entering the second half tied at 10 and having some fun at Alabama’s expense on Twitter.


December 2, 2018The Christmas Candlelight Services, one of Charleston’s longest and most memorable holiday traditions, take place in The Citadel’s historic Summerall Chapel.

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The Heart of a General https://today.citadel.edu/the-heart-of-a-general/ Wed, 19 Sep 2018 16:00:43 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=4049 General Glenn Walters at The CitadelGeneral Glenn Walters at The CitadelGen. Glen M. Walters, Citadel Grad, ’79 has returned to The Citadel, the place he calls home, to serve as the 20th president.]]> General Glenn Walters at The CitadelGeneral Glenn Walters at The Citadel

Glenn M. Walters was reunited with his boyhood friend Robert Creedon III when they discovered they were both going to The Citadel.

Along with his letter of acceptance had been a list of other matriculating cadets from the same geographical region. In the 1960s, when they were in fourth grade, the boys had been good friends at school in New Delhi, India. Creedon’s father was the senior Marine at the U.S. Embassy. By August 1975, he was a sergeant major tasked with taking the two young men to Charleston to begin their freshman year. The sergeant major had combat experience in Vietnam, and Walters was sure that he would offer sage counsel before dropping them off. As the car pulled up in front of the First Battalion sally port, Sgt. Maj. Creedon looked at Walters and barked, “This is your stop. Get out.”

Walters’ own father, William, had grown up on a farm in Kansas during the Great Depression. He was drafted to serve in the Navy in World War II. After the war was over, he went back home to work for a new organization whose identity was so covert that it would be a year before he learned he was actually working for the Central Intelligence Agency. It was the beginning of a 39-year career. In the early 1950s, the agency sent him to England, where he met and married Barbara Hunt. The couple had two children, Glenn and, two years later, Sharon. Over the years, the CIA took the family around the globe and then back to the United States to Vienna, Virginia, where young Walters completed his last three years of high school.

The Transformation

As a boy, Walters was inspired by the stories of the heroes who had bravely served the nation, and when it came time to go to college, he decided to pursue a military education. He visited Virginia Military Institute on a gloomy, overcast day, and The Citadel on a bright and beautiful Corps Day. He chose The Citadel. Later, when the Naval Academy came through with an appointment offer, Walters turned it down—he had already committed to The Citadel.

“It’s amazing how the decisions you make when you’re a young person can affect your life—I would not have become a Marine if I had gone to the Naval Academy,” said Walters.

Two months after they arrived at The Citadel, Walters ran into Creedon in the canteen. A grilled cheese sandwich was 40 cents, and Walters could eat two of them when he had a few minutes between classes. “What did your dad say to you when he dropped you off?” Walters asked.

“The same thing he said to you,” said Creedon.

The blunt goodbye resounded with Walters. “That was Sgt. Maj. Creedon cutting the strings,” said Walters. “And probably the best thing he could do.”

Life at The Citadel was regimented, and as Walters and his classmates navigated the fourth-class system, they learned to work hard and be resilient. On Sundays, the cadets went downtown to an antebellum house where a Charleston matron served lunch and supper for $1.25. There were no air conditioners or telephones in the barracks in those years, but there were plenty of jokes and pranks and a growing feeling of camaraderie among the members of the Class of 1979.

When Glenn Walters (first row, third from the right) arrives as a freshman in 1975, he weighs a mere 128 pounds.

“Our class came together quickly, which I believe is what got us through the year and set us all up for success after graduation,” Walters said.

The curriculum for electrical engineering was intense, and Walters invested many evenings in his books. At the time, the program often took five years to complete, but as an NROTC scholarship holder, Walters had to complete it in four years. In his junior year, he carried 35 hours in one semester. “I spent a lot of time in the library and a lot of time in the barracks trying to master the theories of electromagnetic wave theory and currents and calculus.”

When Walters asked his father about changing majors, his father encouraged him to stay the course.

“I probably wouldn’t be in the position I am now if I didn’t have this degree. I never would have had the requirements to apply to the Naval Test Pilot School to become an experimental test pilot if I had not followed his advice.”

Beyond Walters’ father, there were many mentors in his life, most of them Marines. Gunnery Sgt. Gary Lee, who served as the senior enlisted Marine at The Citadel, arrived at the same time as the Class of 1979. Lee subsequently became the sergeant major of the Marine Corps, the most senior enlisted position in the Corps. There was also Lt. Col. B. Larkin Spivey, ’61, executive officer of the Naval ROTC unit, who, like Rob Creedon, had a former connection to Walters. Spivey, a second lieutenant in 1963, was a member of the Marine unit that evacuated the 6-year-old Walters and his family from Nicosia, Cyprus, to Beirut, Lebanon, because of the Greek-Turkish conflict.

While Walters was pursuing his education at The Citadel, his parents were far away in the Philippines, so Charlie Company and the third division alcove became his home. He spent a couple of summers at Folly Beach, working on the docks in hot warehouses moving dunnage around. An alumnus had gotten him the less-than-glamorous job where, among other things, Walters learned how to heat up his lunch on the engine of a forklift.

During the summer after his junior year, Walters attended Marine Officer Candidate School. Thanks to his time at The Citadel, he and his classmates were prepared.

“Physically we were in pretty good shape, but we’d been under stress at this institution during the fourth-class system. We had mastered the 1,000-yard stare and learned not to be derailed by distractions when you’re supposed to be concentrating on a task, even if that task is as simple as staying at attention with your eyes straight forward. We could do that. And I just remember being surprised that these kids from other schools couldn’t do that.”

In the Junior Sword Drill, Glenn Walters breaks the platoon’s record for the number of pushups with 150. His record is broken the following year.

The Road to Four Stars

The spring of 1979 marked a transition for Walters—his commissioning ceremony and graduation opened a new chapter in his life. Brig. Gen. Roy E. Moss presided over the Marine Corps commissioning ceremony in Summerall Chapel. “Gen. Moss issued our oath, and he did it standing in front of, not behind, the podium. He did it from memory, and he did it with a great booming voice and said, ‘All right, Marine officers, now sit down.’ And that just impressed me.”

After The Basic School in Quantico, Virginia, Walters volunteered to be an infantry platoon commander with the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Division. At flight school, Walters completed his training in 11 months instead of the typical two years. He spent time in California at the Marine Corps Base in Camp Pendleton as a Cobra pilot before being accepted to the Naval Test Pilot School. At Naval Air Station Patuxent River in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, he served as an experimental test pilot, where he was named the Military Test Pilot of the Year, but the up-and-coming Marine superstar had an even greater honor in store for him.

“After that, I went back to MAG-39 [Marine Aircraft Group 39, Camp Pendleton, California], where I was a major. I introduced the night targeting system for the Cobra out there, but the most significant portion of that assignment was that I met and fell in love with Gail. And from then on, we were a team of two.”

They were introduced by friends at a place called Sharky’s Lounge. Amid a sea of Marines in their olive flight suits, Gail Hannah, the vice president of marketing for Hang Ten, stood out with her long blond hair and pink miniskirt. It was 1994. They married a year later.

A happy reunion for Glenn and Gail Walters after he lands a Cobra helicopter in Cherry Point, N.C., for an event with the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.

A Team of Two

From Camp Pendleton to the Pentagon and twice to North Carolina, Team Walters was on fire. At New River Air Station outside Jacksonville, North Carolina, Walters became the commanding officer of the Marine Corps’ first new operational test squadron in more than 40 years. The charge: to operationally test the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey and secure congressional funding. The V-22 is a state-of-the-art combat aircraft that uses tiltrotor technology to blend the vertical capacity of a helicopter with the velocity and scope of a fixed-wing aircraft.

U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller assists Gail Walters as she pins a fourth star to her husband’s uniform in August 2016. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Samantha K. Draughon/Released

After testing the V-22, it was back to the Pentagon, where Walters was promoted to brigadier general and assigned to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In Helmand Province, Afghanistan, Walters served as the commanding general of the Second Marine Aircraft Wing, flying the V-22 in combat, the very same aircraft that he had tested five years earlier. With his third star, Walters became the deputy commandant for programs and resources. On August 2, 2016, Walters received his fourth star and became the 34th assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, the second-highest-ranking officer in the Marine Corps and the final assignment in his 39-year military career.

On the Side

The New First Lady

Gail Walters is used to a pretty fast pace. The Seattle native attended Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, on an academic scholarship. She completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Editorial Journalism with a minor in Marketing at the University of Washington in Seattle. She also holds an MBA from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Not surprisingly, she graduated with honors. She climbed to the top of the marketing and communications profession, working for big names from Fortune 500 firms to major federal agencies and health care organizations, but now she looks forward to her new role as first lady.

“Lots of people have asked me why I wanted to come to The Citadel,” she said. “Besides the fact that I love being married to Glenn and would like to continue that tradition, I spent 35 years in advertising, marketing and PR for some of the biggest brands in the world. One day I realized that the better I was at my trade, the more money I was making for a bunch of big corporations and their shareholders. And I did not want that to be the legacy of my life. So I am thrilled, yes, but honored and humbled to have an opportunity now to make a difference in a way that I think really matters. And that is by supporting the cadets, families and communities of The Citadel in any way I can.”

Together, Gail and her husband love to travel, go to baseball games and have dinner with friends. They both work out and run—Gail is a former 400-yard dash sprinter and downhill skiing instructor. Gen. Walters plays golf; she enjoys the sport but says her game is horrible. A modern woman, Gail is content to let her husband cook Italian for her, enjoying Pavarotti’s booming tenor in the background while two rescued kitties and a 16-year-old cat lounge idly, remarkably unaware of how lucky they are.

Service Before Self

While Walters was climbing the Marine Corps ranks, Gail continued to work in marketing and advertising with big-name accounts like Apple, Nike and Coca-Cola. Part of her job was to train clients to speak to large audiences without a teleprompter or a script. As her husband’s roles in the Marine Corps escalated, she donned her media training hat to help him prepare for the communications side of being an officer. She beams with pride when she talks about his ability to connect to his fellow Marines.

“I’ve watched him grow, and he’s really very good. But he’s at his best when he speaks from the heart, not off a script. You can give him bullet points, but when he just tells you how he feels or what he believes, especially when he addresses Marines and retired Marines and tells them what’s going on in the world and why their sacrifices continue to matter, you can actually just feel the temperature in the room change.”

Like those mentors at The Citadel who once took a personal interest in him, Walters is keenly interested in the welfare of those he leads.

'Setting the stage for the next generation and paying it forward—which means mentoring, education, engaged empathetic leadership—is going to set us up for success in perpetuity in this country.'Click To Tweet

“Setting the stage for the next generation and paying it forward—which means mentoring, education, engaged empathetic leadership—is going to set us up for success in perpetuity in this country. That’s what I believe…. You have to be more interested in the people you lead than they are in you. And, if you are, I think you’ll get along just fine because people know when you’re not completely honest.”

Back Home

The Marine Corps is the smallest service in the Department of Defense, and interestingly, there were 20 members of the Class of 1979 who earned Marine Corps commissions. Even more interesting, four of those 20 graduates made general officer, and that’s just within the Marine Corps. It’s a point that brings Walters great pride.

U.S. Marine Corps photo

“The fact that we produced those folks in this school is telling of what it does. I think our alumni are closer and more enthusiastic about their alma mater than most college graduates are. All that’s the fabric of campus life, and being a member of The Citadel family really kind of brings a smile to your face.”

To Walters, being a member of The Citadel family is a commitment, and he is passionate about what the college does.

“I think the system puts challenges in front of you and gets you to understand that this is not going to stop you. It puts that grit into your belly. It teaches you to say, ‘I don’t care what you do—the system is not going to get me down.’ But really it’s teaching you that you can overcome challenges. You will get more resilient, and then you will realize that you can accomplish more than you ever thought you could. I believe that. I was a 128-pound skinny little thing when I got down here. When I graduated, I was 170 pounds. I was playing lacrosse, something I had never done. I was commissioned into the Marine Corps, and I had a degree in electrical engineering.”

For Walters, The Citadel is at the heart of his military career, his success, the principled leader he has become. He bleeds Citadel blue.

Last April, the Board of Visitors announced that Walters had been named the 20th president of his alma mater. As president, Walters joins a distinguished lineage of flag officers who have led the college since the first cadets arrived in the spring of 1843. And like his predecessors, Walters returns to The Citadel with an impressive leadership résumé, a passion to make a difference in the lives of cadets and students, and a drive to continue the legacy of servant leadership that has defined his military career.

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Cyber in the Summer https://today.citadel.edu/cyber-in-the-summer/ https://today.citadel.edu/cyber-in-the-summer/#comments Tue, 18 Sep 2018 15:23:48 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=4273 A student sits in a classroom during the GenCyber Summer ProgramA student sits in a classroom during the GenCyber Summer ProgramA weeklong GenCyber camp hosted by The Citadel educates campers about cybersecurity, network security, coding, cybercrime, cyber ethics, cyber laws and teamwork. ]]> A student sits in a classroom during the GenCyber Summer ProgramA student sits in a classroom during the GenCyber Summer Program

It’s June in Charleston, and two 8th-grade boys wearing goggles huddle in the corner of a classroom in Thompson Hall, one watching a laptop, and the other, the blinking lights of a small drone as it quickly ascends before it lunges forward and makes a figure-eight, then drops without warning. The boy watching catches it easily. Their coding acumen has just scored them 100 points, putting them in the lead against their fellow campers in a contest designed to test their programming ability.

The camp, a weeklong GenCyber camp hosted by The Citadel and funded by a $63,367 grant from the National Security Agency and the National Science Foundation, incorporates a multidisciplinary approach. With faculty from the Swain Family School of Science and Mathematics, the Zucker Family School of Education, and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, campers learn about first principles of cybersecurity, network security, coding, cryptography, cybercrime, cyber ethics and cyber law.

When Luanne, a 9th grader whose hobbies include beekeeping and horseback riding, is asked what her favorite subject is in school, she says that it is a toss-up—she enjoys literature, mathematics and technology, and, in particular, coding. It is no surprise, then, that Luanne is one of 57 8th-12th graders who applied to the GenCyber camp.

Like her fellow campers, Luanne enjoys learning to code a drone, but she is also quick to point out the unexpected lesson she learned about the value of teamwork.

“We were put in groups and had to work together to solve problems,” she says. “It’s beneficial because in any career you choose, you have to learn to communicate with people and know their opinions to make a difference.”

Teamwork is also important when it comes to addressing the shortage of cybersecurity experts. As cybercrime escalates, so too does the shortage of cybersecurity experts. From the federal government and the military to state and local governments and private industry, the cyber defense field has a strong presence in today’s work force. The GenCyber program, which provides cybersecurity camp experiences for students and teachers, was created to bring visibility to the field and ensure that the next generation of cyber defense experts will be ready to face the nation’s security challenges.

Jordana Navarro, a professor of criminal justice, captures the attention of campers when she teaches a lesson on cyberstalking. With only the first and last name of one of the instructors assisting with the camp and 10 minutes on the internet, Navarro is able to find the instructor’s date of birth, address, phone number, place of employment and pictures of her family. That information in the wrong hands can make most people vulnerable. Cyber stalkers are offenders who usually suffer from psychological problems; they exploit technology to harass, seek revenge and even destroy their victims.

To demonstrate how easy stalking is, Navarro tasks campers with finding information on the internet about themselves and their family members. Keegan, a 9th grader who likes sports, gaming and surfing, discovers where his parents lived as children and learns about ancestors he didn’t know he had.

“Cyberbullying is a worldwide problem. I’ve learned how easy it is to find someone’s information, how easily it could be avoided and how important it is to have secure passwords,” he says.

Cyber theft is another important topic covered in the GenCyber curriculum.

“We learned that victims of cybercrimes are not always aware that their information has been compromised until a crime has taken place,” said TréShawna, a 10th grader who wants to be a mathematician or a veterinarian. “Don’t put your information out there.”

This year The Citadel was the only South Carolina college to receive a grant for the GenCyber camp. In 2016, the college was designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security, the second college in the state to earn that distinction. The college also teamed up with the five other senior military colleges (University of North Georgia, Norwich University, Texas A&M, Virginia Military Institute and Virginia Tech) along with congressional leaders to create an amendment authorizing the secretary of defense to establish cyber institutes at the senior military colleges.The Senior Military Colleges Cyber Institute amendment is expected to be included in the fiscal year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act.

“The main goal of the GenCyber program is to increase interest in cybersecurity among K-12 teachers and students by teaching them principles of cybersecurity, cyber safety and cyber ethics,” says Lt. Col. Shankar Banik, Ph.D., who serves as co-director for The Citadel Center for Cyber, Intelligence, and Security Studies. “As a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education, it is our responsibility to conduct outreach activities such as the GenCyber camp, where students learn how to be good cyber citizens and are inspired to become future cyber warriors.”

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Sunset on Folly Beach https://today.citadel.edu/sunset-on-folly-beach/ Tue, 18 Sep 2018 15:16:48 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=4269 Cadre training on Folly BeachCadre training on Folly BeachBefore the Class of 2022 arrives, members of the cadre practice team-building exercises and learn about resilience and servant leadership. The exercises culminate at sunset on Folly Beach with U.S.]]> Cadre training on Folly BeachCadre training on Folly Beach

Before the Class of 2022 arrives, members of the cadre practice team-building exercises and learn about resilience and servant leadership. The exercises culminate at sunset on Folly Beach with U.S. Navy SEAL-inspired training.

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Preparing for Takeoff https://today.citadel.edu/preparing-for-takeoff/ Tue, 18 Sep 2018 15:10:45 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=4248 Cordell Rangers Joint Training exerciseCordell Rangers Joint Training exerciseCadets from the Cordell Airborne Ranger Club participate in a joint training simulation exercise with the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, South Carolina National Guard, and Joint Base Charleston. Joint training]]> Cordell Rangers Joint Training exerciseCordell Rangers Joint Training exercise

Cadets from the Cordell Airborne Ranger Club participate in a joint training simulation exercise with the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, South Carolina National Guard, and Joint Base Charleston. Joint training opportunities allow agencies to collaborate and share tactics and procedures in a safe, controlled environment.

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On the Banks of the Ashley https://today.citadel.edu/on-the-banks-of-the-ashley/ Tue, 18 Sep 2018 15:00:29 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=4262 Sunset at the future site of the Swain Boating Center on the Ashley RiverSunset at the future site of the Swain Boating Center on the Ashley RiverIn March, The Citadel broke ground at the site of the future Swain Boating Center. Made possible by a generous donation from Dr. and Mrs. Christopher C. Swain, ’81, the]]> Sunset at the future site of the Swain Boating Center on the Ashley RiverSunset at the future site of the Swain Boating Center on the Ashley River

In March, The Citadel broke ground at the site of the future Swain Boating Center. Made possible by a generous donation from Dr. and Mrs. Christopher C. Swain, ’81, the state-of-the-art facility will provide cadets, graduate students, faculty and staff with unprecedented access to the Ashley River and all the athletic, recreational, and educational opportunities it affords. Thanks to the Swain family’s transformative gift, this new recreational and athletics facility will soon become a reality.

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A Dream Fulfilled https://today.citadel.edu/a-dream-fulfilled/ https://today.citadel.edu/a-dream-fulfilled/#comments Tue, 18 Sep 2018 15:00:14 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=4128 Cadet Colonel Sarah ZornCadet Colonel Sarah ZornCitadel cadet Sarah Zorn overcame adversity and made history when she became the first female regimental commander at The Citadel.]]> Cadet Colonel Sarah ZornCadet Colonel Sarah Zorn

From Pilgrims on the Mayflower to immigrants at Ellis Island, America was founded on a dream.

A dream of freedom, prosperity and good fortune. A place where possibilities are endless and life is promising. This ideal blossomed into what is known as the “American dream”—the notion that anyone from any background can achieve anything through hard work and determination. I believe the American dream is still alive and well, beating in the hearts of every one of us. I believe this because I have been fortunate enough to live my own American dream.

As a young girl, I waited daily for my grandfather to get home from work and take off his worn, dirty work boots so I could walk around the house in them, hoping one day to fill his shoes. I would climb into his lap and ask, “Why are you so dirty, Pop-Pop?” His answer was simple: “I had to go to work today, Sarah Jean.”

It was only a few short years later that I was lacing up a pair of my own work boots, following him around on job sites, toting materials and fetching tools as we worked in the hot Florida summer. I looked forward to my pay that came at the end of every day and the fruit of a hard day’s labor—the taste of a cool lemon-lime Gatorade. I learned many life lessons traveling in the white work van that smelled faintly of plumber’s glue and stale cigarettes. Lessons of honesty: “Be honest with your customers, Sarah Jean, and they will be honest with you.” Lessons of business: “Your best advertisement is word of mouth. Do a respectable job, and your business will spread.” Most importantly, lessons of humanity: “Remember the Golden Rule—do unto others just as you would have others do unto you.”

Pop-Pop’s lessons have stuck with me, and I find myself thinking about what they taught me. And, perhaps more importantly, how I can pass them on to help others.

As a stay-at-home mother and disabled veteran, my mother knew she would not be able to help me financially with college, but she had ambitious dreams for me and nurtured my thirst for knowledge early on. Even before I was born, she ordered a complete set of encyclopedias. As the mail carrier delivered the packages, she jokingly asked, “Has that baby graduated college yet?”

Sarah Zorn stands in profile on The Citadel's parade field
Photo courtesy of Alyssa Schukar/The New York Times/REDUX

My mother spent countless hours reading to me, and once I started school, she made sure I could research and answer my own questions. If I ever asked the definition of a word, her standard response was, “Go look it up.” And begrudgingly, but obediently, I plodded to the dictionary or the encyclopedias to find the answer.

As a young child, I did not understand the difference between gaining knowledge and simply knowing facts, but the pursuit of knowledge stayed with me. I worked hard and challenged myself in school. I often made the honor roll and always strived to do my best. I realized that if I wanted to be successful, college was my best option, so grades were important. Little did I know that my college experience would be vastly different from that of most others my age.


There’s More to the Story


My life took a drastic turn when my mother passed away. I was 16, too young to live on my own, so I chose to move to Aiken, South Carolina, to live with my aunt and uncle. It was in Aiken that my future began to take shape and all the puzzle pieces began to fall into place.

When I arrived at Midland Valley High School, making friends was not something that came easily to me. I was quiet and dutiful in my schoolwork as I had always been, and I wasn’t good at making small talk. Many of the students thought I was rude, and they did not try to talk to me. I was threatened with detention on my first day for “not abiding by the dress code and skipping lunch,” even though I knew nothing of the dress code or that skipping lunch was even an offense. Despite the rough start, I began to make friends over time. I built a strong relationship with my Junior Naval ROTC instructors, who took a special interest in my success at Midland Valley. As my junior year came to an end, Warrant Officer Seim, my Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps instructor, asked me what my post-graduation plans were. When I told him I wanted to go to college but did not have a way to pay for it, he said, “Don’t worry about college; I have something for you.” He explained about ROTC scholarships and encouraged me to apply.

About five months after I sent in the Army scholarship application, I received notification that I was a four-year national scholarship recipient. Only about 10 percent of the ROTC scholarships awarded nationally cover the full four years of college. After accepting the scholarship, I needed to decide which college to attend. At the time, I wanted to pursue mechanical engineering and stay in state, and I knew that I wanted to pursue an active-duty commission after graduation—The Citadel seemed like the right choice.

Sarah Zorn stands with her classmates on Recognition Day
Cadet Sarah Zorn and her classmates hold each other up as Recognition Day 2016 concludes.

Matriculation came quickly, and soon I was standing outside third battalion as parents and knobs quickly bustled by. My entire world was spinning as I nervously reported to my first sergeant. I remember trembling as I tried to grab my box of initial-issue items, sign for my room key and gather my thoughts as I was swept away into this new and evolving world.

My time at The Citadel has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’ve faced challenges that have only developed me into who I am today.

I struggled slightly with the mental challenge of physical training, or “PT” as we call it. I eventually found it within myself to say “Yes, you can,” instead of “No, you can’t.”

I learned many lessons, one of the most important—if you give 100 percent effort 100 percent of the time, people will most likely leave you alone. I always tried my best, even on days when I did not want to, and that lesson even transferred to my accomplishments within Army ROTC. I look back fondly on Recognition Day, a day of intense physical training that signals the end of the fourth-class system. I remember the PT and my classmate Noah Harvey-Fonvil encouraging me through our final victory lap. I remember the bagpipes and the famed final pronouncement: “The fourth-class system is no longer in effect.” Ironically enough, I don’t remember a word the regimental commander, Jimmy Urban, said. I will keep that in mind when it comes my turn to give the same speech. I can do nothing but be thankful for knob year, The Citadel and all the experiences I’ve had here. My life wouldn’t be the same without them.

I eventually found it within myself to say 'Yes, you can,' instead of 'No, you can't.'Click To Tweet

My sophomore year was somewhat of a blur, so much so that I’ve come to call it a lost year. I was a squad corporal. I deeply cared for the knobs that I trained and mentored. One was Jennifer Pozzani, who was going through a challenging time in her life just after losing her mother. I could feel her grief—I knew what it was like to lose a parent and how difficult it can be to mourn and continue day to day, especially at The Citadel. I wasn’t sure Pozzani would return after Christmas break, and when she did, I knew she was capable of great things. Today she is serving as the company first sergeant for Hotel Company. We became so close that she asked me to help her with her class set on Recognition Day.

Cadets Sarah Zorn and Jennifer Pozzani take a moment out of their hectic 24-hour schedule to talk.
Cadets Sarah Zorn and Jennifer Pozzani take a moment out of their hectic 24-hour schedule to talk.

Junior year was a year of resilience. I served as first battalion sergeant major for a little over three months before assuming the position of regimental sergeant major. In this new role, I learned to lead my peers and hold them accountable. I worked directly with the Commandant’s Department to execute the daily operations of the Corps of Cadets. There were many times when I was so stressed that I leaned on my peers. I often sought out the guidance of the regimental commander and regimental executive officer, Dillon Graham and John Cordes. I learned through experiences that were unique to The Citadel, such as participating in the West Point Leadership and Ethics Conference and being a member of The Citadel Leadership Development Council. The most important advice I could give to anyone in this position is: do your job, and do it well. Don’t forget you’re still in college. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Learn from them and enjoy the company of your peers—you will only get to do it once.

As my junior year was ending, I chose to apply for regimental commander. After a long board review and interview process, I was chosen. The support of cadets, faculty, staff and alumni who all offered their support and advice was overwhelming. The best feeling I had was when I called the Corps of Cadets to attention for the first time at the Long Gray Line parade, and the Class of 2018 stood behind me and cheered. It was then that I realized how special this one-square-mile campus on the banks of the Ashley River had become to me. The buildings will fade with time, but the Long Gray Line will stand forever within the hearts of the cadets who appreciate it as much as I do. I can only hope that I can give back as much as I have been given. God bless the Long Gray Line.
In my time at The Citadel, I have built friendships and relationships that will last a lifetime. I have learned lessons that built upon the values I was taught when I was young. I learned to count on others and work as a team to succeed. Similarly, I realized that my determination and academic successes had been fostered all along by my mother in her need to inspire in me a lifelong pursuit of knowledge.

Sarah Zorn accepts the Regimental Commander's sword from Dillon Graham during the change of command ceremony in May of 2018
Sarah Zorn accepts the Regimental Commander’s sword from Dillon Graham during a change of command ceremony in May of 2018.

The moral of this story is that life gives us nothing but opportunity, and it is our choice as to whether or not we take it. Sometimes opportunity only knocks once, and sometimes it doesn’t knock at all, and we must seek it out. We are all capable of greatness if we are willing to visualize the goal and work for it. Our dreams can become a reality, and this reality is the American dream—the dream that lies within our hearts, that beats throughout this nation, that stands true from generation to generation. This dream isn’t only my dream, it’s our dream, a vision for a better future and an opportunity for everyone to pursue their own American dream.

After all, as Walt Disney reminds us, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”


Cadet Colonel Sarah Zorn currently serves as the regimental commander, the highest-ranking member of the Corps of Cadets. She made history when she became the first female cadet to hold that rank. A senior business administration major originally from Zephyrhills, Florida, she holds three black belts in different disciplines. In her spare time, she works on cars with her family.

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A Rich Military History https://today.citadel.edu/a-rich-military-history/ Mon, 17 Sep 2018 14:58:00 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=4017 Charles Hodges Thailand Cave RescueCharles Hodges Thailand Cave RescueAs the whole watched in anticipation, Maj. Charles Hodges, '00, became the face of the U.S. effort in Thailand to rescue the 12 boys and their coach.]]> Charles Hodges Thailand Cave RescueCharles Hodges Thailand Cave Rescue

It was the story of the summer that everyone was talking about. In the northernmost province of Thailand, 12 young boys and their 25-year-old soccer coach were exploring a cave when they became trapped by flooding after a sudden heavy rainfall. It was June 23, just the beginning of the four-month-long monsoon season, and the world sat on edge, waiting for news of the missing boys and their coach. In the midst of the rescue operation that included the assistance of roughly 10,000 people from around the world, Air Force Maj. Charles Hodges, ’00, became the face of the U.S. effort in the rescue.

There’s a rich Citadel and military history that runs through Hodges’ family. His uncle, for whom he was named, Air Force Capt. Charles G. Hodges, III, ’65, was on a combat deployment in the Philippines when he died of accidental causes. His father, Reverend Richard B. Hodges, ’72, now a pastor in a Presbyterian church, is retired from the Air Force as well as the National Guard. His brother Joseph Hodges, ’07, formerly a striker platoon leader in the Marine Corps and later a logistics officer in the Marine Corps Reserve, is now a civilian nurse in a VA hospital in St. Louis and a flight nurse in the Air Force Reserve. Another brother, who did not attend The Citadel, John Daniel Hodges, served in the Marine Corps and is now in the Marine Corps Reserve. Hodges himself graduated from The Citadel in 2000 with a degree in Spanish. He is currently an Air Force special tactics officer stationed in Okinawa, Japan, and in late June, he was standing ready when Thailand called for support.

When the Royal Thai government sent a request to the U.S. government asking for assistance in the rescue effort of the 12 soccer players and their coach, the request was routed to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, which sent the request to Special Operations Command Pacific, which sent the request to the 353rd Special Operations Group. This relay occurred in the span of an hour. As commander of the 320th Special Tactics Squadron, which falls under the 353rd Special Operations Group, Hodges is in charge of ground forces—pararescuemen, combat controllers, special operations weather technicians and tactical air control party members. About 19 hours after the initial request, Hodges found himself in a Thai cave immersed in a tactical mission planning operation.

“We approached it as if it were a standard military-contingency type of response, and we applied every single tool that we could to try to find these kids and then ultimately to rescue them.”
Hodges credited his time at The Citadel for his leader development. “It was not an easy experience, but I look back on it with fond memories. It was a time to challenge me. It was a time that I learned a lot. What I learned there was specifically applicable to the Thai cave rescue scenario—just never giving up, not having the option to quit, and sticking with it until the job was done,” he said.

The likelihood of finding the boys and their coach, however, was bleak. Hodges, who has four children with his wife Julie, felt the weight of reality.

“So for me, before the children were found was a challenging point emotionally. We were fully committed, but at the same time we didn’t know if those kids were going to be found. I try to think of myself as a realist, but in this situation I was pretty pessimistic.”

More than two weeks after the ordeal began, however, all 12 boys and their coach were safely out of the cave in a rescue operation that had all of the riveting elements of a best-selling novel. According to Hodges, teamwork—a theme that runs deep at The Citadel—was responsible for the success of the operation.

“We had civilian entities. We had Department of State entities. We had Department of Defense entities, both in the U.S. and on the Thai side, Australians, British, Canadian, Chinese, a European contingent. We had for-profit. We had a nonprofit. We had those who spoke perfect English and those who didn’t speak any English at all. We had everybody and their brother coming together to do this, and still there were never too many people there…. The teamwork aspect of this effort could not be overstated.”

There’s a rich Citadel military history in Thailand. In 1963, Thai Cadets Chokechai Hongstong, Charoensak Thiengtham and Viruch Tangoi graduated—the first of dozens of young Thai students who have come to The Citadel on a Royal Thai Army Scholarship for military training and an education in engineering or one of the sciences. Geographically, Thailand and The Citadel are separated by 9,000 miles, but in spirit and ambition they are aligned, and last summer, they were brothers in arms in a death-defying rescue mission that showed the world the value of teamwork.

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No Ordinary Saturday https://today.citadel.edu/no-ordinary-saturday/ Mon, 17 Sep 2018 14:55:56 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=4023 The Citadel Bulldog ChallengeThe Citadel Bulldog ChallengeSimilar to a mud run, the Bulldog Challenge is a 10-kilometer endurance course that borrows events from all facets of Marine Corps ROTC training.]]> The Citadel Bulldog ChallengeThe Citadel Bulldog Challenge

At 0800 on a closed weekend, the barracks emits a low rumble as hundreds of cadets in shined brass and pressed wool make their way to inspection. April 21, however, was an open weekend, and cadets were free to do with their morning as they pleased. On any other open weekend, the campus would be nearly silent—those few cadets who remained on campus would be sleeping in, enjoying their day of freedom. But this was no ordinary Saturday. As the sun peaked over the parade deck early that morning, a cacophony of horns, buzzers and cheering filled the air in celebration of the running of the Bulldog Challenge. Similar to a mud run, the Bulldog Challenge is an annual event hosted by the Marine Corps Naval ROTC unit, essentially a 10-kilometer endurance course that borrows events from all facets of the Marine Corps ROTC training experience.

I had the pleasure of running the course as a knob in 2015. Now, as a senior, I looked forward to seeing how the challenge had evolved, as well as how I would fare my second go-round.

Every year, at least a third of the teams participating are, in some way, made up of cadets. While most of the participants who run the Bulldog Challenge do so to challenge themselves, cadets often show up with a greater desire to push their limits. With physical fitness serving as one of the Four Pillars, coupled with the deeply ingrained military culture of The Citadel, the Corps of Cadets proudly embraces a physical culture. On any given day, cadets can be found running, biking, swimming, lifting weights or otherwise pushing themselves to be a little bit better than the day before. The spirit of competition is ever present, so when it is time for the annual Bulldog Challenge, cadets are quick to emerge.

As the buzzer sounded on that early morning in April, I took off at a dead sprint with my classmates—Antonio Molina, Kirk Rizer and Walter Metcalfe—all of us strong, commission-bound cadets who wanted to see just how hard we could push ourselves. Before we even got in sync, we had blown through the obstacle course, picked up sandbags and were making our way to the pool. We kept up our momentum and enthusiasm for at least another mile as we rounded the track, knocked out some pullups and flipped truck tires behind Jenkins Hall. Just like my first run during knob year, the fatigue started to show on the trek from the parade deck to the stadium. But this time, I could handle it a little better. Perhaps because we had completed the challenge before, it was to our advantage to know exactly what the run would feel like. Or perhaps we had better prepared our bodies in the years between our first attempt and today. I prefer to think the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

No matter the level of fitness or mental preparation, the act of carrying sandbags up and down the stadium steps, followed by the carrying of a teammate all the way up the Medical University parking garage, is a teeth-gritting ordeal. When our team of four emerged upon the sunlit roof, it was as though a switch went on, sending us on autopilot. The rest of the course was downhill—like one big sprint. From backtracking down the parking garage, footslogging back to campus, getting wet and sandy behind the rifle range and eventually sprinting back across the parade deck, we barely broke pace. We didn’t even realize we were gasping for breath until a moment after we crossed the finish line.

The Citadel campus on the Saturday afternoon of an open weekend is usually a ghost town, but on the afternoon of April 21, an esprit de corps lingered in the balmy 72-degree air. Exams would begin the following week, and there was studying to be done, but those practicalities were eclipsed by the feeling of elation that comes from a rigorous physical challenge. After all, physical fitness is important for mental endurance, and after the Bulldog Challenge, exams were sure to be a stroll around the parade deck.

Ensign Jon Buckland of Morehead City, North Carolina, graduated in May with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. A platoon leader for Palmetto Battery, he was the recipient of the Charleston Navy League Officer Sword. After graduation, he earned a commission in the U.S. Navy.

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The Right to Read https://today.citadel.edu/the-right-to-read/ Mon, 17 Sep 2018 14:55:53 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=4012 Zucker Family Reading CampZucker Family Reading CampFor 42 years, families have turned to the Summer Reading Program offered by the Zucker Family School of Education for tutoring for their children.]]> Zucker Family Reading CampZucker Family Reading Camp

A little boy’s name is called. It’s the moment he has been dreading. He feels the silence of the classroom while all heads turn, eyes boring into the back of his head, waiting for him to read the words on the chalkboard. He feels the heat of embarrassment rise to his face. His palms become sweaty, and he wants nothing more than to flee the classroom and escape the fact that he can’t read as well as his classmates. His eyes frantically search out the letters, he licks his lips, and he begins to falter on the words. He hears the soft sounds of laughter beginning, and once again the overwhelming sense of frustration and humiliation overcomes him.

This experience is a familiar one for so many students who struggle with reading on a daily basis. The effects on children are not only academic, but also social, mental and emotional. For parents who are fighting to help their children in any way possible, the difficulty increases when the last school bell of the year has rung and the backpacks have been tucked away.

For 42 years, families have been turning to the Summer Reading Program offered by The Citadel Zucker Family School of Education for one-on-one tutoring for their children. The program’s tutors are classroom teachers who are working on their Master of Education degree in Literacy Education.

Assistant Professor of Literacy Education Robin Jocius, Ph.D., who leads the literacy program, is proud of what the program does, not only for the children who desperately need reading intervention, but for graduate students too. “Our students tell us time and time again that the Summer Reading Program is their favorite part of their graduate work at The Citadel,” she said, “and I believe it’s among the most valuable experiences in our program.”

Hands-on intervention work is a critical part of the learning experience. “Although all our students have worked as classroom teachers,” said Jocius, “classroom teaching rarely allows for opportunities to work with a student one-on-one, to really get to understand a student’s strengths, needs and ways to support that student’s growth. In the Summer Reading Program, our students get the chance to develop personal relationships with students and try out new diagnostic and intervention techniques that they don’t get the chance to try in the classroom.”

Illiteracy continues to be a pervasive problem within the United States, with 32 million American adults unable to read. South Carolina has the 13th-highest rate of functional illiteracy within the United States. These are terrifying numbers, especially for parents who have a child struggling to read. The average child loses two months of reading skills over summer vacation, and for a child who is already reading below grade level, this gap will only be intensified.

The Summer Reading Program has won numerous awards and has received national recognition from the International Reading Association. This unique and tuition-free program is designed for children who are reading two or more years below grade level and is offered for two weeks during the summer. The program is crucial to helping children who are experiencing reading difficulties and offers individual tutoring, which is based on diagnostic-prescriptive case studies. Most importantly, the program supports the Zucker School’s principle that the learner is the most important individual in the teaching-learning process. All too often, because of large class sizes, teachers are unable to provide the individual support and time that these children need.

“The Citadel’s Summer Reading Program was an amazing opportunity to further my knowledge and gain assistance and resources to become a better educator,” said Alyson Formichella, a former literacy graduate student who is a special education teacher at Hanahan High School.

The Summer Reading Program is so popular that there were 58 students on the waiting list before the registration period was closed. Parents see the benefits the program provides to their children. “Please know that this program has a huge impact,” one parent wrote. “My son has grown so much, and the opportunity for him to work with different role models is invaluable.”

The program is significant, not only to children and their parents, but also to the graduate students involved. Formichella felt the program was instrumental in shaping her as a teacher. “The Summer Reading Program helped me to gain confidence as a teacher. Our amazing professor, Dr. Jocius, provided us with detailed instruction, resources and guidance to make sure that once our program was over, we could take these skills back to the classroom with us. I can already see my current students making progress each and every day.”

The Citadel is setting the bar high when it comes to producing elite educators in the field while also giving back to the community. Formichella summed it up best: “The overall experience this past summer was one I will never forget. On the last day of the program, my student admitted that she now felt comfortable and confident to read in front of her peers. Not only was this something she said, but it was obvious in her smile and expression as she read.”

For a child who was once struggling, self-conscious and fearful of reading, a new sense of confidence is a priceless gift that will continue to give year after year.

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